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Superb tv music shows extent of Goldsmith's gifts even in 1961
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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"Cost of Living"
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2009 Turner Entertainment Co.; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
Not a great number of people watched the tv series Cain's Hundred, which ran for one season from 1961 to 62. Even most of the people who did watch it probably don't remember it (though it did meet with a generally positive response). How remarkable it is - and forgive me for using another of my well-worn lines here - that its music is now available on CD for us to buy. I don't suppose it would be if it weren't composed by the great Jerry Goldsmith - but the thing is, it was! And how fascinating to hear this music on FSM's new album (perhaps a less lavish counterpart to their 3-disc Dr Kildare release earlier this year).
The series' title refers to Nicholas Cain, a federal agent determined to prosecute the hundred top Mafia criminals in America. Goldsmith took his cue from that and provided what is a rather dark work, bolstered by a forceful main theme which isn't as memorable as some of the composer's tv themes, but which sounds perfect for this story. He builds much of his underscore in the same style - dramatic, brassy statements accentuating action, strings for the less forceful drama, low-end piano adding tension.
The orchestra is smaller than thirty players, but such was Goldsmith's skill, he managed to create some captivating music. This was written before his big break in the movies, Lonely are the Brave, yet it's remarkable to hear how finely-honed many of the techniques he would employ to such legendary effect over the following forty years already were. The composer has such a clear purpose with the music - and all the technique in the world to pull it off - it's just so consistently interesting. It's easily up to film music standard - and frankly I'm struggling to think of the last episodic tv music which you could say that about. Goldsmith overcame the budgetary challenges with relish, being endlessly creative and coming up with brilliant music in the process.
This album features all of Goldsmith's music for the show - the pilot, a two-part episode and a very brief set of cues for another - along with music from one episode by Morton Stevens, which is also high-quality and in a similar style. The sound is mono but very clear and crisp; the excellent liner notes are by Jon Burlingame (I particularly enjoyed reading that Goldsmith decided to call himself "Jerrald Goldsmith" for this and Dr Kildare because his mother had told him off for abbreviating it to Jerry on earlier projects). This is a fantastic album.